Tick, tick tick.
An election is coming. Again. While politicians and the media scramble for sound bites the voting public watch on. Who to vote for, how to vote, how not to vote, where and when, and this election, for the first time, why?
I have always loved voting. I couldn’t wait to enrol when I was 18. I still remember my first election. Remember the thrill of walking into a church hall and marking the squares. Remember knowing my vote meant something, and that at the end of the day, my vote was for the side that won.
It was not for another six years that I realised I was in the minority. It was an odd feeling, and a less than successful election party.
My political playground was Tasmania in the 1980s. I cut my teeth on the Gordon below Franklin Dam, the protests and the subsequent high court ruling. I had been on the Franklin River while on a family holiday, and watched protestors canoe past. Bob Hawke was a hero. He promised to stop the dam as part of his (successful) election campaign. In my mind, and from what I saw, people could do great things. Politicians it seemed, listened. Protests became movements, became political parties. Bob Brown took office in Tasmanian State Parliament the day he was released from prison for obstructing work on the dam site. He became a house hold name, and the eventual leader of a political party.
It is no secret my politics is to the left. I am one of those soy latte sipping, tree hugging lefties. I have been to rallies, marched on streets. I have placed bumper stickers and bought slogan T-shirts. A social gathering is not the same without healthy political debate. I have been verbally abused by strangers with views different to mine. There was a time I thought it may be wise to remove some stickers from the back of my car. But at the end of the day, I was proud of my politics and stood firm in the process of voting.
The election this year is different. For a start, it has been called twice. Over the weekend I walked through a local electrical goods store refreshing twitter and feigning interest in kitchen appliances. I announced that the election had been called to a somewhat bewildered shop assistant, who quite frankly wanted my attention on the features of the toaster he was holding. It used to be that I was excited about an election being called. This time, after the initial twitter buzz, I was at a loss. The party I thought I could vote for? I am not sure it exists now.
News comes in tweets and link baited page updates. Politicians are on twitter. They have instagram accounts and facebook pages. Gaffs and crawl-under-your-seat embarrassing interviews are on youtube faster than you can say preference votes. But the real news? The news where there is real debate, actual policy discussion, you have to dig for that.
When politics came onto my radar, I thought politicians listened. Yes I was young, and no doubt a little naïve. But it seemed they at least tried to be on the side of humanity. While those who governed were not faultless, I’d rather be wondering at the ambitious, and (to the cynically inclined) vote grabbing phrase ‘By 1990 no Australian child will be living in poverty’ than ‘you won’t be settled in Australia.’ The former at least looks like humanity matters.
When the day arrives, armed with as much informations as I can find, I’ll walk to the local school and vote. Because some part of me still believes in the process. In the right to have my say and use my voice. Because some part of me holds out hope. It’s a very small, slightly jaded and cynical part. But it is there all the same.